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Is It Against the Law to Enjoy This Canned Veggie All Year Long?


According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center,

90% of the sales for this canned vegetable (well, technically, it's a fruit) take place every year during the 4-month period from October to January.

Any guesses?!

It is something that will most likely appear in your shopping cart over the next several weeks.  However, after that you may forget all about it until next October.

It's canned pumpkin!

We get a lot of questions about canned pumpkin, especially this time of year.

Is it really healthy? 

Is it just for pumpkin pie? 

Are there other ways to use it?  

And, what do I do with that half unused can that just sits in my fridge?

First, and most importantly...YES!  Canned pumpkin is loaded with nutrients!  Plus, it is tasty, super-convenient, and very versatile (it can be used in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes - it's not just for pumpkin pie!).

What is canned pumpkin?

It is made from pumpkins or squash that are harvested, cut up into smaller pieces, softened and mashed.  Another machine then removes the excess water.  The rinds and seeds are removed, and then the pumpkin is strained into a puree and transferred into cans.  After canning, it is cooked (cooking after canning helps enhance the flavor).  The good news?!  This canning process means that it can be stored in your pantry for as long as two years!

The pumpkins or squash that are used for canned pumpkin aren't those bright orange pumpkins you buy for your decorating or carving.  Libby's, who produces over 75% of canned pumpkin in the U.S., uses a variety called Dickinson pumpkins (or Dickinson squash).  They believe this variety provides the best taste and texture for their customers.  These Dickinson pumpkins are a yellowish tan color and are typically larger than the orange pumpkins you find at the pumpkin patch.

Is it good for you?

Yes, canned pumpkin is a nutrition powerhouse!  A 1/2 cup serving has about 50 calories and is loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins, especially A, C and K.  Just like carrots and sweet potatoes, it's a great source of beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A in your body.  It provides many benefits including reducing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.  And, that 1/2 cup serving gives you over 250% of your daily recommended Vitamin A!

The potassium also provides many benefits, including offsetting the adverse effects of sodium.  By helping your body get rid of excess sodium, this reduces the demands placed on your heart and blood vessels.  This helps reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and strokes.  Potassium also helps reduce blood clots and improve kidney function.

Don't be fooled!

It is important to know, we are talking about 100% pure pumpkin, which is different than canned Pumpkin Pie Mix.

For example, Libby's brand makes an Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix, and its ingredients include salt, spices and 16 g (4 tsp) of added sugar for just 1/3 cup.  So, be sure to read those labels and make sure you are buying 100% pure pumpkin -- you will see it only includes one ingredient: "pumpkin."

As with all canned fruits and vegetables, it is best to look for cans that are BPA free, as BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems.

 

 

Is it just for pumpkin pie?

Absolutely not!  There are SO MANY ways to enjoy canned pumpkin, in both sweet and savory dishes.  And it is perfectly okay - and recommended - to break the rules and enjoy it all year long!

Quick tip:  Stock up early -- just before the holiday season, it may become harder to find because many cooks out there realize the greatness of canned pumpkin and we have seen shortages in recent years.  And then take advantage of post-holiday discounts!  Many grocery stores will often have excess inventory they don't sell during the holiday season.  Look for canned pumpkin to be marked down 50% or more in January or February, and then stock up - remember, it will last 2 years or longer in your pantry.

What about un-used canned pumpkin?

You can store any un-used canned pumpkin in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 5-7 days, giving you time to toss it in a smoothie or use it in overnight oats.  It also freezes beautifully!  Simply place your leftover pumpkin in the freezer in an airtight container, or a plastic freezer bag, and it will keep for at least a year.  Frozen pumpkin will work great for smoothies, and we have thawed it and then used it in so many recipes.  One thing to keep in mind, when you thaw it there may be a little excess water to drain off or absorb with a paper towel if desired.

 

We want to make sure you are inspired to enjoy using canned pumpkin all year long -- here are several of our favorite ideas:

 

Harvest Pumpkin Bars (Amazing! Incredible! Crazy Good!)

Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Sausage Skillet (perfect taste of fall!)

Autumn Pizza (pumpkin pizza sauce?!)

Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie (a delicious and healthier alternative.)

Cinnamon Pumpkin Cornbread (moist and cake-like!)

Pumpkin Tiramisu Overnight Oats (yes, pumpkin and tiramisu are a great combination!)

Slow Cooker Vindaloo Chicken (flavor-loaded Indian inspired meal.)

Pumpkin Poppers (loaded with pumpkin flavors!)

Pumpkin Spice Granola (great with yogurt or milk - or all by itself!)

Thai Inspired Autumn Hummus (try it on sandwiches or with baked or grilled chicken.)

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes (fluffy, healthy, delicious and super-easy!)

Crockpot Quinoa Pumpkin Chicken Stew (perfect for a cool, crisp fall day.)

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Granola (another delicious granola - with chocolate!)

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (thick and rich - great any time of the year!)

Pumpkin Spice Latte (a super-easy way to make your own.)

Baked Apples with Oatmeal Cookie Granola (apple pie and cookies, all rolled into one!)

 

Do you have an idea we should add to the website?

What is your favorite way to enjoy canned pumpkin?

 

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5 Responses to Is It Against the Law to Enjoy This Canned Veggie All Year Long?

  1. How can you tell if a can is BPA free – in order to do what you suggested above, which I would love to do: “As with all canned fruits and vegetables, it is best to look for cans that are BPA free, as BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems.”

  2. We enjoy a Pumpkin Turkey Chili recipe year ’round, so I stock up on canned pumpkin when it’s in season. I use half a can in the recipe, and freeze the rest for a future batch. This is a perennial favorite in our house and goes together super quickly.

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